Photo Credit: Jewish Press

In several previous articles and numerous undisputed proofs from real life, we have already established rather conclusively that global warming, world hunger, and the stock market collapse all have one thing in common. Those and seemingly all other natural disasters and international crises are indisputably… my fault!

Yes, I have sadly perfected the art of shlugging ‘al cheit’ all day, every day. And rightfully so. Under the circumstances, it truthfully appears to be the very least I can do.


Worldwide calamities notwithstanding, there are likewise any number of personal and communal debacles for which I am responsible, albeit on a far more limited scale.

The other night was a textbook example of my infamous propensity for wreaking havoc. And, worse by far, the inadvertent victim of my most recent fiasco was one of my all-time favorite people, my incomparable sister-in-law.

She had arrived in the Holyland a few days earlier on a whirlwind visit to participate in a weekend of family simchas. As always, we were delusionally convinced that she would be our much-feted and fawned-over coveted house guest. Again, as always, we spent far more time hosting her suitcase and hand luggage than the celebrity guest of honor herself.

In fact, if you include the first night she spent on the plane, the following night at a neighbor of mine, Shabbos at a house in close proximity to the baalei simcha, and motzaei Shabbos near her young couple in Yerushalayim, she managed to sleep in four different locations in as many nights. Mind-boggling how many sets of linen and bedding one petite person can go through!

On the fifth night, we finally merited a guest appearance… that is, our long-awaited guest staged an appearance! However, the circumstances surrounding her belated arrival were so harrowing and hair-raising that it’s a wonder she did not immediately stage a rapid about-face and disappearance!

Unfortunately, aside from my apparent penchant for misadventure, and ‘Midas touch in reverse,’ there is also my abysmal sense of direction. Add to that the fact that I get carsick on the local bus routes and consequently rarely use public transportation, and the scene was set with perfect precision for what transpired next.

After schlepping around with her newlywed kids during every available moment of their downtime (i.e. bein hasedarim), including taking them out for both lunch and dinner, our intrepid traveler decided that she was ready to take the intercity bus to our home. Seemingly a wise decision since the buses stop running around midnight, and a cab ride from Yerushalayim to our neighborhood is prohibitively expensive.

So her lovely daughter-in-law called to ask me for directions, bus numbers, and bus stops for her mother-in-law’s trip. (See extensive information cited above to determine why this was decidedly not a wise decision!) Thankfully, my sister-in-law had left her suitcase in our guest suite. She was, however, planning to bring her wheeled carry-on luggage, and her Mary Poppins’ style ‘kol bo’ pocket book with her.

I told her to take the fastest and least dizzying bus line to our area, and to get off on our main street, just before the bus turns sharply uphill to a new neighborhood in the vicinity. Foolproof. Or so I initially thought. Before I was unceremoniously proven wrong once again.

First of all, the other bus line arrived first, and she decided to take the less preferred route rather than be ‘matri’ach’ her daughter-in-law to wait with her any longer. When she called from the bus to apprise me, I confirmed that the final stop for that line was likewise on our block. Seemingly even more foolproof. Except, of course, that it was not.

My sister-in-law called several times during the hour-long ride, and then again when she disembarked. “Okay, I got off on your street,” she shared.”Now what?”

I instructed her to continue downhill, in the direction the bus had taken, crossing no streets, just passing one other small street before making a right into ours and following our short block until our house at the end.

“It looks like a really long street,” she murmured, sounding somewhat dubious.

“Yes, it is a long street,” I confirmed, “But our block is the second one you reach…”

“By the way, my phone is down to 4 percent…” she cautioned. “This doesn’t look right,” she added. “It looks like a wilderness…”

“Hold tight!” I replied. “I’m coming right down to meet you!”

And without even grabbing my cell phone, I ran downstairs and up the block to the bus stop. Needless to say, she wasn’t there. I did an about-face and started back down the block, going past my house, and continuing down past the next few blocks as well, toward another new neighborhood under construction further down the road.

I assumed that she had overshot her mark in the dark, particularly in the unfamiliar locale, and now found herself in what could easily be termed a “wilderness.”

But, as I continued toward the access road to the main highway, I spotted a clue which effectively turned the tables, and pointed the finger of blame squarely on moi: Another bus stop!

Oops! Where did that mirage come from? I hurried forward, feeling even more compelled to find my wandering, hopelessly lost house guest.

Finally, we spotted each other in the distance and had a slightly awkward reunion on the darkened street. Then we trudged back up the hill to my house, clarifying the details of the mix-up as we walked.

We dropped her bags off in her room and then went upstairs to my apartment, where she caught her breath, took a drink, and called her worried husband in the U.S. to reassure him that she had, baruch Hashem, been ‘found’ safe and sound. Then we caught up while her phone was charging, and eventually wished each other “good night” and went to our respective bedrooms. By then it was nearly 1 a.m.!

I must admit that I tossed and turned for much of the night, reviewing my transgressions in living color for the next several hours. B’chasdei Hashem, my wonderful sister-in-law had a restful night, despite her harrowing ordeal. And she wholeheartedly forgave my inadvertent mess up, with her typical smile and good nature.

So much so that she even returned to sleep in our guest room the following night, irrevocably shattering her ongoing practice of a new bed for each night of her stay. We felt like we had won the lottery!

Later that morning, after she had exchanged a few rounds of hugs and kisses with yours truly, my husband drove her to the airport to begin her journey back to her family and home in the U.S.

It’s definitely quieter since her departure. Less excitement. Less drama. And certainly less comic relief.

Needless to say, we miss her already.

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